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This text is a section of the catalogue to the exhibition of photography that accompanied the Simposio de Justicia Restaurativa y Paz en Colombia held in Cali in 2005. In it, art critic and curator María Iovino introduces the work of Colombian photographer Jesús Abad Colorado, asserting that it not only operates on an aesthetic level but also condemns the unfortunate events that have beset Colombia. Iovino also mentions documentary works by Yezid Campos Bogotá, Juan Manuel Echavarría, and Felipe Paz, three master artists that have addressed social issues tied to displacement and discrimination. Iovino’s text discusses the importance of grasping concepts such as territory, identity, memory, and history, which are fundamental to studying and interpreting the forced displacement experienced by Colombian populations due to the country’s armed conflict.
The Simposio de Justicia Restaurativa y Paz en Colombia took place in Cali in 2005. The event, which brought together political, social, and cultural institutions, also included an exhibition of photographic and audiovisual artwork that addressed both the consequences of the armed conflict and the situations faced by minorities and indigenous populations victimized by discrimination and indifference. At the core of the event was the conviction that “restorative justice is a model of community justice that places emphasis exclusively on the social dimension of the crime. It attempts to restore the social tie damaged by criminal action in a process of reconciliation, reparation, and forgiveness between the victim and the perpetrator with the mediation of the community.” In this framework, visual documentaries (photography and video) played a crucial role as a means of reactivating memory and of shaping a narrative that operates as an alternative to the official version of the conflict.
Colombian photographer Jesús Abad Colorado (b. 1967) is known for his poignant vision of the conflict in Colombia. The titles of some of the series of works that Iovino discusses—Escuelas [Schools], Huellas de la naturaleza [Traces of Nature], Dolor [Pain], for instance—suggest the nature of the images they contain. Abad Colorado’s work, though, is by no means opportunistic; his mastery lies in subtle framing that is both incisive and poetic. Significantly, the catalogue published in 2006, the year after the event, included texts explaining the reasons for holding the symposium as well as its theoretical and legal framework.
While Iovino’s text focuses on Abad Colorado’s work, she also discusses Baile Rojo [Red Dance] by Yezid Campos, Bocas de ceniza [Mouths of Ash] by Juan Manuel Echavarría (b. 1947) and Putchi Pu, pastores de palabras [Putchi Pu, Word Shepherds] by Felipe Paz, all of which are anthropological in nature as they attest to the difficult situations experienced in Colombia.